Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

August 12, 2012

If you like getting caught in the rain

BLUEFIELD — For the second time — in a span of less than two months — I got caught in the middle of a thunderstorm. The first time I was in Bluefield at the Second Chance Rocks the Two Virginias concert. The second time I was in Blacksburg, Va., at Steppin’ Out, an annual street festival.

Last weekend, I was meeting a friend for a night out. We had reservations at a salon and then plans for dinner. The festival, located downtown near Virginia Tech’s campus, had closed off traffic. However, both the salon and restaurant were located in the midst of the two-day event, which also featured a one-mile run. Arriving early, I decided to spend time looking at some of the booths. I stopped long enough to enjoy a sample of Amish friendship bread and then, the rain began. This wasn’t a quiet, summer rain; giant drops started to fall, splashing up around my sandals. Thunder rumbled in the distance. I glanced back at the parking garage, but there wasn’t enough time. I dashed over to a jewelry tent with only seconds to spare.

The rain came down fast and furious. Runners, preparing for the race, looked confused at the change of weather. Warm and dry inside the white tent, I couldn’t help but be glad I left my running shoes at home. There wasn’t much to do but look at the merchandise inside the little make-shift store. And make small talk over the thunder. The two young vendors were from Charlottesville, Va. We chatted about work and their jewelry. They offered me a snack. The storm didn’t ease up. Instead, water began rushing down the slight decline, creating small rivers where the road met the curb. We moved boxes and bags away from water. The wind, which wasn’t nearly as bad as the storm on June 29, started to shake the tent. I grabbed one side of the tent; the other women held the corners. Across the street, we watched a woman’s tent collapse under the weight of the water. Several people offered their assistance, but it was no use. The rain was too much, too fast.

During those 30 minutes, I experienced a sense of deja vu — first Bluefield’s storm in June and now a summer thunderstorm in Blacksburg, Va. I have learned two valuable lessons from Mother Nature this summer. First of all, she has no qualms  about canceling or disrupting scheduled events. We have all been rained out — at picnics, ball games and beach days. But it is much more significant when Mother Nature disrupts an event that takes months to plan. The concert, which is rescheduled for later this month and the festival, are two good examples. At the festival, many vendors closed shop for the night, worried about the damage to their goods from the wind and rain. The foot race went on as planned, but many runners had to run in soaking wet shoes. Only the lucky ones brought a change of clothes and second pair of shoes. It stopped raining minutes before the race. Some folks remained for the night, but the mood was slightly damp.

I have also decided that Mother Nature loves catching us off guard. The sun shined bright all afternoon, until I decided to step out on the street without an umbrella. I didn’t take the clouds seriously. In all truthfulness, I am always without an umbrella. Usually, I dash inside buildings and vehicles, dodging rain drops. My mom, who is more prepared, recently bought me a present — three umbrellas for the office, vehicle and house. I left all three in their respected places on Friday night.

I am not afraid to get a little wet. I don’t melt like sugar, or like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. My hair gets a little frizzy, that’s all. But I am beginning to appreciate the act of being prepared for Mother Nature’s fury. In the wintertime, I have an emergency kit to battle sudden snow storms. It seems appropriate to do the same for summer thunderstorms. We never know what the weather will bring, especially in the two Virginias. From 90-degree days to storms with high winds, everyday is an adventure. Weather is fascinating, in person and on TV (which explains why the Weather Channel is so popular). As humans, we have yet to control the weather. It is no wonder our eyes scan the skies, looking for the approaching change in the atmosphere. The next storm — no matter the season — is always on the horizon. But this time, I will be more prepared, rain, shine or snow.

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com. Follow her on Twitter@BDTParsell.

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